Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, April 10, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, April 10, 2014

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Tuesday, April 15 with doubleheader action featuring the New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. ET and the Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m.

 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal

Barkley on the Playoffs: “If the playoffs started today, the team that wins the series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and LA Clippers is going to represent the Western Conference in the playoffs.”

Barkley on the San Antonio Spurs: “I guarantee the Spurs are praying they don’t play Memphis in the first round. They don’t want to play Memphis.”
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San Antonio Spurs (109) at Dallas Mavericks (100)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Kerr on the Dallas Mavericks: “Dallas is not a good defensive team, but a great offensive team – one of the best in the league.”

Kerr on Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard: “Kawhi has great defensive versatility. He can guard a 6’0″ guy or a 6’11″ guy. That’s one of the many things he’s brought to this team.”

Kerr on the Spurs and Mavericks: “With San Antonio and Dallas, you have two teams that are filled with guys that can dribble, pass and shoot and two coaches that demand execution and ball movement so it’s a beautiful game to watch.”

Kerr on a team in the Western Conference with the most wins not making the playoffs: “It just seems so unfair especially with what is happening at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It is just amazing that a team that is approaching 50 wins will not make the playoffs.  If you make it to 50 in the NBA you have had a great season, I can’t believe that a team can do that and not make the playoffs.”

Kerr on the makeup of the Spurs roster: “The Spurs have been phenomenal in the last few years, figuring out who to chase in free agency.  Guys like [Patty] Mills, [Boris] Diaw…just fit the design.”

Kerr on Mavericks forward Shawn Marion: “Shawn Marion has been one of the best defensive players in the NBA. He may not score like he used to but he can still guard anybody. With his athleticism, he can guard anyone from a point guard to a power forward.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith and O’Neal

O’Neal on Tim Duncan: “Good thing about Tim Duncan, he’s a true definition of a great player.  He does things that makes his teammates better.”

Barkley on the Spurs not being able to make it past the first round in the playoffs: “I don’t think those old guys will be able to hold on. Tony Parker is the only one that is still in his prime. I think that age is going to take its toll on them.”

Barkley on Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki: “Greatest European player ever…best big man shooter ever.  He’s probably top 25 [players] of all time.”

O’Neal on Nowitzki: “When he came in, he didn’t have what Magic [Johnson] had or [Larry] Bird had or even what Kobe [Bryant] had. His first couple of years he struggled, but he stuck with it.”
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Kerr on the potential of the Spurs and Mavericks facing each other in the first round of the playoffs: “It would be fun to watch. [They are] two of the most beautiful offensive clubs we have in the NBA. The execution is just fantastic to watch.”

Kerr on Kawhi Leonard: “He could be a great post-player with his strength and his length.”

Kerr on Kawhi Leonard: “This Spurs stretch in this last couple of months is directly related to Kawhi Leonard’s return from his wrist injury and his tremendous play at both ends of the floor.”
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Denver Nuggets (100) at Golden State Warriors (99)
Marv Albert (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Miller on Warriors guard Steve Blake: “This is a guy that has playoff experience, is tough and can make big shots. He’s more of a facilitator and he fits right into the plans of Golden State and Mark Jackson.”

Miller on the importance of David Lee for the Warriors in the playoffs: “If this Warriors team is going to go far in the playoffs, David Lee has to be healthy and playing at a high level. If the playoffs started today, the Warriors would be playing against the Clippers. He and [Andrew] Bogut have to have a monster series in order for them to advance. You need a walking double-double and that’s exactly what David Lee is.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith and O’ Neal

Barkley on the Warriors without David Lee: “They have no chance of winning a series without David Lee.  He’s a walking double-double.”
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Miller on Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried improving on offense: “We know what he can do on the offensive glass, he’s relentless on rebounding, but he has to become a little more polished offensively.”

Miller on Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw: “I love what Brian Shaw is bringing to the Denver Nuggets. The number one thing is accountability. He has experience as a player and a coach and I think these young guys recognize that.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, Smith and O’Neal

Barkley on the Denver Nuggets: “I would love to see this Denver team get healthy.”

Barkley on the San Antonio Spurs: “When they get to the playoffs, they are going to play against a really good team. They are 2-8 against the top 2, 3, and 4 teams in the Western Conference. They are going to have a tough series against Memphis, Dallas or Phoenix.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, April 3, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Tuesday, April 8, with doubleheader action featuring the Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat at 8 p.m. ET and the Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Matt Winer, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Smith and Chris Webber

Steve Smith on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: “We all know to win championships you’re going to have to defend. And they don’t have the lockdown defenders other than Kawhi Leonard that you can put on somebody and make it hard… They need a guy that they can just take [an opposing player] out of a ballgame, and Kawhi Leonard is one of those guys.”

Chris Webber on the Oklahoma City Thunder: “I still believe you have to have three great players, two Hall of Famers, to win a championship in this league…That third great player could be [Serge] Ibaka, defensively.”

Shaquille O’Neal on Oklahoma City: “The difference between OKC and Miami is you can look at Miami and say, ‘they’re going to win because they do everything right.’ With OKC you have to say, ‘if their jumper is falling, then they’ll win. If they can score on the inside, then they’ll win. If [Thunder point guard] Russell Westbrook is playing under control, then they can win.’”
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San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder 
Kevin Calabro (play-by-play), Mike Fratello (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Mike Fratello on Thunder guard Reggie Jackson: “He takes some of the pressure off [Russell] Westbrook. They have developed so much confidence in him, and he has developed so much confidence from when he took over for Westbrook. He’s a terrific defender, can penetrate and get to the rim; he’s another weapon on the floor.”

Fratello on Thunder forward Kevin Durant: “It’s just too easy for him to score because at his size he can run the floor, he can handle the ball; he can beat you off the dribble; he shoots the ball with incredible range.”

Fratello on Oklahoma City’s defensive focus: “Give Oklahoma City credit, when they get down in their stance, when they’re engaged, all five players on the floor, they’re a terrific defensive team.”

Fratello on the upcoming NBA television schedule: “There’s hardly a game that you can look at on the schedule and say not one of the two teams aren’t involved somehow in the playoff race.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

Webber on Spurs forward Tim Duncan: “This is what I love about him, the fact that right now he’s averaging close to 10 rebounds. There are guys seven-foot that aren’t doing that, and they’re in their 20s. I think a lot of it is just being boring, just playing the same way, like a drill.”
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Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Brent Barry (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Brent Barry on the Dallas Mavericks trying to make the playoffs: “Their fate is in their hands. They just have to play better basketball. They have struggled in fourth quarters. They got to keep getting themselves in that position to win games.”

Barry on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul: “He plays both ways. He knows how to take over games. Defensively, [he is] the steals leader in the league. He probably uses more energy than anybody who plays this game, talking, moving and communicating. He’s a special, special player.”

Barry on the Mavericks adding players during the offseason: “I think the Mavericks’ brass, in looking at free agency in the offseason, talked about what they needed to compliment Dirk Nowitski’s game. These guys fit together. Jose Calderon is a set up point guard, a great spot up shooter… And Monta Ellis causes all kind of matchup problems at his size.”

Barry on Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ role with the Clippers: “There are going to be some times I think quite frankly that “Big Baby” is going to be important for the Clippers, just in terms of the emotional energy he brings to the game.”

Barry on Dallas winning on the road: “[They had] some struggles in the fourth quarter but overall Rick Carlisle has got to be very pleased with this performance… They got this road trip started the right way by winning against one of the best of the West.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber
Webber on Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis: “I played with Monta Ellis when he was a rookie. You would have never seen him have the stats he has tonight… He’s become one of the best finishers in the game… When he’s keeping everyone on their toes, on ice-skates, on their toes, he gets guys involved.”

Smith on Ellis: “I like the way he’s distributing. It seems like he’s looking to win basketball games right now. And he’s playing with Dirk Nowitzki, who’s playing out of his mind at his age.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

Smith on Dallas’ veteran contributors off the bench: “I take my hat off to Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. Old guys still getting it done, [they] still want to make the playoffs. I think to win championships… you have to have these vets. Vets know how to play at the end of the year. That’s when they get to going.”

Webber on the Clippers’ inconsistency: “This is why Doc Rivers probably isn’t getting all the sleep he should during the year because sometimes the Clippers go back to being the old Clippers from last year in the middle of the game. That’s the only thing that worries me about them.”

O’Neal on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “I think he could play linebacker in the NFL.”

Smith on Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: “I think they’re going to have to have Manu [Ginobili] play at a high level… We all know great scorers don’t want to really guard [other] great scorers.”
Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, March 13, 2014

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, March 13, 2014

 TNT’s NBA coverage continues Tuesday, March 25, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Dallas Mavericks followed by the New York Knicks @ Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Matt Winer, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on Knicks head coach Mike Woodson: “Mike Woodson is not the problem with the Knicks. The Knicks stink. Mike Woodson has been totally disrespected throughout this entire process.”

Barkley on reports of Phil Jackson joining the Knicks front office: “The ‘Zen Master’ is going to have to go see Dr. Phil after seeing that team play.”

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Houston Rockets (87) at Chicago Bulls (111)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Kerr on the Triangle offense: “It’s a great offense if you’ve got great talent…much like any offense.”

Kerr on the Rockets’ James Harden: “Harden is at the point in his career where he has star status…he’s so good offensively. When he’s making the three with his ability to get to the rim, with his strength, people just bounce off of him.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Rockets: “They are a good solid team but they aren’t a contender.”

Smith on Houston point guard Jeremy Lin: “There are a lot of different variables that he offers but he gets discredited because of what happened in New York with ‘Linsanity.’ He’s very effective and tough to play against. The credit that he gets now works against him because he got too much already [while with the Knicks].”
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Kerr on Chicago’s chances in the playoffs:  “They could do some serious damage [in the playoffs] if the match-up is right. I don’t like Miami [as an opponent] for them but Indiana, with their own offensive inefficiencies…I could see Chicago and Indiana going a long way [in a series].”

Kerr on how the Rockets lack of grit could impact them in the playoffs: “They are a happy-go-lucky bunch. Led by Dwight Howard, they are very loose and the chemistry is great; but you have to question the grit. Do they have enough fire in them to get through a playoff series with all the adversity they are going to hit? That’s what you have to get through as a team if you’re going to evolve through that pain and learn those lessons.”

Kerr on Houston guard Patrick Beverley: “He’s the one guy on the team that fires the Rockets up.”

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Los Angeles Lakers (102) at Oklahoma City Thunder (131)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Chris Webber (analysts) with Craig Sager (reporter)
Webber on the Lakers: “Think about how hard it is for a team like the Lakers to get any rhythm. They’ve had six different point guards. How can you have any consistency with different leadership [on the court]?”

Webber on Oklahoma City veteran Caron Butler: “He can score, he plays defense, he has experience and he’s happy to be [in Oklahoma City]. He wants to be sure that his impact is felt.”

Webber on the Thunder’s cohesiveness: “When you’re on a championship run, you have so many moving parts and things that may not go well. [The Thunder] have been together for so long, it seems like they can handle the misfortunes and the changes.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

O’Neal on Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka: “Serge Ibaka is [Oklahoma City’s] third guy, he does everything. Every championship team has a guy that does all the small things.”

 

Barkley on the Lakers: “The Lakers made a huge mistake not re-signing Dwight Howard. They should’ve found a way to make it work. You can’t let the best big man in the game just leave.”

 
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Webber on the toughness of the Thunder: “They are tough and not only because of [Kendrick] Perkins. They have Ibaka, who is one of the best defenders in the game. They have Durant and Westbrook, who is an animal…he just goes.”

Webber on the Thunder: “There was a rumor that [the Thunder] were selfish. I don’t know who started that rumor but this team is fun to watch. When you’re putting up 115 [points] a game…it’s hard to be selfish.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Winer, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on Russell Westbrook: “He’s never going to be a conventional point guard. He’s too talented.”

Barkley on the Clippers: “The Clippers are the favorite in the West right now.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR
 

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, March 6, 2014

nba-on-tnt TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, March 13, at 7 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Houston Rockets @ Chicago Bulls followed by the Los Angeles Lakers @ Oklahoma City Thunder at 9:30 p.m.
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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Grant Hill

Hill on [Heat forward] LeBron James’ 61-point night earlier this week: “He has become that kind of guy that can go off and have big nights. He enjoys passing and facilitating, but when he gets it going there is no one that can stop him.”

Smith on the Miami Heat’s increasing intensity as they head towards the playoffs: “This is the time of year when LeBron and the Heat start to move the motor up. They’re going for [the top seed]. I don’t think they were going for it earlier in the year. They were just playing hard basketball, but now that they see it’s within reach, they could possibly get the best record [in the Eastern Conference].”

Barkley on where the Indiana Pacers stand in the Eastern Conference: “This thing is going to come down to the wire. The Indiana Pacers made a big mistake [this season] being concerned about home court advantage. If you’re going to win the Championship, you’re going to have to win on the road. [The Pacers] have to start playing better, interject [Pacers center] Andrew Bynum and [Pacers guard] Evan Turner in some capacity and get back to playing Pacers basketball.”

Barkley on his disappointment with Pacers forward Paul George stating his interest in being mentored by LeBron James: “Paul George, I like you. You’re a great player, but you can’t say you want to be mentored by LeBron James. That’s wrong. I love Michael Jordan like a brother, but I would never ask [Jordan] for advice on how to beat him. Same with Larry Bird. I admire and respect him, so I would never ask him for advice. You should want to beat your friends more than anybody.”

Hill on the tendency to underestimate the Spurs: “We keep underestimating this team. Every year you think their run is over, and last year they got to The Finals. Now they have everybody healthy and the playoffs are around the corner.”

Barkley on the best teams in the Western Conference: “The two best teams in the Western conference are the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder…in that order.”

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Miami Heat (87) at San Antonio Spurs (111)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Anthony on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: “He is the only next-level athletic player [the Spurs] have that gives them a chance to play out of space. He’ll be important for them when matching up with [LeBron] James.”  
 
Anthony on the efficiency of the Spurs offense: “It’s a treat to watch San Antonio offensively. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Anthony on how this year’s Spurs team compares to last season’s group: “[Spurs head coach Gregg] Popovich feels like this is a better basketball team. They’re just getting back in terms of continuity and health, but he really likes this group.”

Anthony on the Heat’s ability to get to the basket: “The ability to get to the cup, in terms of the penetration by [Heat guard] Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, is what separates the Heat from a lot of other teams.”

Anthony on Spurs veteran Tim Duncan: “Tim Duncan looks terrific physically. His energy is as good as you could imagine for a guy at this stage of his career.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill

Hill on Spurs point guard Tony Paker: “Historically, Tony Parker has been one of the top players for scoring in the paint. His penetration really ignites their offense.”

Barkley on where the Spurs stand in the Western Conference: “They are the third best team in the Western Conference. If they get a bad first round matchup [in the playoffs], like the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors, they’re going to lose in the first round.”

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Anthony on the importance of having a pair of great leaders on a team: “The Spurs have [Tony] Parker and [Tim] Duncan and the Heat have [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade. When you have two great players it makes the game so much easier for everyone else, especially when those great players are unselfish.”

Anthony on Heat forward Chris Bosh: “Sometimes you forget how great of a shooter Chris Bosh is.”

Anthony on Spurs point guard Patty Mills’ improved play: “He can score the basketball. His minutes have gone up because of injuries, but also because [Spurs head coach] Popovich trusts him more as a basketball player.”

Anthony on the Spurs taking great shots: “They live by turning a good shot into a great shot, something more teams should try to implement. They are not a team that looks to isolate the basketball.”

Anthony on the importance of Kawhi Leonard to the Spurs: “There is no one player who is going to stop [Heat forward] LeBron James, but Leonard gives you the ability to at least make LeBron have to work over the course of the game to get everything that he earned. That’s vital for the Spurs. [Leonard] is their most important player. They’ve been pretty successful without [Tim] Duncan, [Tony] Parker or [Spurs shooting guard Manu] Ginobili, but they’ve struggled without Leonard. He gives them that athleticism and defensive minded toughness.”

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Los Angeles Clippers (142) at Los Angeles Lakers (94)
Marv Albert (play-by-play), Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr (analysts) with Ric Bucher (reporter)

Kerr on the Lakers’ Pau Gasol: “Pau Gasol has a lot of basketball left in him. There was a lot of talk whether he would be moved at the trade deadline; he is a free agent at the end of the season. [Gasol's] got a few really good years left, but he may need a change of scenery. This has been a tough couple of seasons for Gasol here [in Los Angeles].”

Kerr on Clippers point guard Chris Paul’s return from injury: “[The return of Paul's shooting ability] is a good sign for the Clippers. He has struggled to get his shot back since his return from injury. The Clippers are a much better team when Paul is aggressive offensively.”

Miller on Clippers small forward Danny Granger: “He’s really going to help this ball club out. Not only being an experienced veteran, but [because of] his ability to shoot the basketball at 6’9.” The three-point shot has really been the only thing missing from this Clippers team.”

Kerr on the unraveling of the Lakers: “It’s amazing how quickly things can slip away from you in this league. One year ago the Lakers got [injured Lakers point guard Steve] Nash, [Houston Rockets center] Dwight Howard and they’re thinking Championship. Now it’s all just falling apart, and it’s onto the next phase. It’s going to be a few years before they can get back to at least a respectable level.”

Miller on injured Lakers point guard Steve Nash: “Once again, father time is showing us that he is still undefeated. I don’t care how well conditioned you are, the older you get it’s that much tougher to play at such a high level. [Nash] is a two-time MVP and one of the most well-conditioned athletes in our game. One little thing and you’re gone.”
 
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill

Barkley on Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin: “The best thing that happened to [the Clippers] was Chris Paul getting hurt. It forced Blake Griffin to be aggressive. He has to dominate his position every night…that’s what a star does.”
 
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Miller on whether or not the current Lakers roster is motivated to play with so many stars injured: “You’re auditioning. If not to stay here with the Lakers, there are 29 other teams watching you [take advantage of] an opportunity. A lot of these guys would be 11th and 12th men or behind the bench in suits and wouldn’t be playing on other teams. You’ve been given an opportunity to play major minutes for one of the historic franchises in the NBA. You should care.”

Kerr on the struggles of the Lakers: “This is a team that is demoralized. Sometimes you see this in March when a season has already been decided; the care factor goes out the window.”

Kerr on Clippers backup point guard Darren Collison: “He’s best suited in the role he’s in now: a backup, occasional starter. He’s just not a pure point guard. He’s a guard that thinks shot first. That’s fine, if he’s in the role he’s in now.”

Kerr on the potential strength of the Western Conference postseason matchups: “You can go up and down the West and look at the matchups. Right now Memphis wouldn’t even be in and that’s a scary team. I don’t think anybody wants to play them. [Then there’s] Phoenix, playing at such a high level. Every first round matchup would be competitive and fun to watch.”

Miller on the Clippers without point guard Chris Paul: “[The Clippers] are not beating the Thunder or the Spurs [in the postseason] without a healthy Chris Paul. Going against [Spurs point guard] Tony Parker and [Thunder point guard] Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul has to be engaged, focused and healthy to win those series.”

Miller on how the Lakers should react to this historic loss: “This is one of those tapes that if you’re [Lakers head coach Mike] D’Antoni, you put it in a shredder and let it go. Just move on.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill

Barkley on the Spurs chances in the playoffs: “The Spurs aren’t going to be able to last three rounds deep into the playoffs. Their older players will not hold up. They’re a great organization and have the best coach in the NBA, but every series is going to be very difficult for them.”

Smith on the Miami Heat heading into the postseason: “Whatever happens in the regular season for the Miami Heat, they don’t worry because no one has proven that they can beat them over a 10-day stretch. They’re right where they need to be: in a top spot, two games out, comfortable playing on the road and at home and they have one thing that everyone else doesn’t have…the atomic bomb. They have LeBron James, and at any time it could detonate and blow up the whole city.”

Barkley on whether the Heat should be worried about the Pacers: “You better be worried about Indiana. They’re not going anywhere. They’re going to be [in the Eastern Conference Finals]. There’s no one else in the conversation in the Eastern Conference. Those two teams are going to have a knock down, drag out fight.”

Barkley on Pacers forward Paul George: “Paul George needs to learn how to be a superstar. He’s too casual with the ball.”

Hill on the Thunder adjusting to point guard Russell Westbrook’s return from injury: “The chemistry is off a little bit, and that’s to be expected. They’re used to playing without Russell Westbrook, but they need him in order to win a championship. It’s going to take some time to get more comfortable with [Westbrook] in the lineup.”

Barkley on potential playoff matchups in the Western Conference: “If I’m at the top of the Western Conference, I would rather play Phoenix than Memphis. Phoenix is a jump shooting team. You can play defense against jump shooters, but when you’ve got big [Grizzlies center Marc] Gasol and [Grizzlies forward] Zach Randolph down there…they’re a handful for anybody.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Monday, January 20, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m. ET with the 2014 NBA All-Star starters announcement followed by doubleheader action featuring the Los Angeles Lakers @ Miami Heat at 8 p.m. and the Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.

 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber

O’Neal on best team in the East: “Right now it’s Indiana…but if you look at the Miami Heat organization, they play chess not checkers. I wonder do they try to fight for the #1 spot or do they say ‘No, we just need to get better; we can beat them at a possible game 7 so let’s just stay comfortable at No. 2.’”

Barkley on the best team in the East: “The Indiana Pacers are the best team in the NBA. The two things that concern me — turnovers and Lance Stephenson.”

Barkley on Clippers forward Blake Griffin: “I think he’s being more aggressive without Chris Paul. This guy is going to take them to the next level. He’s being more assertive and more aggressive; he’s playing fantastic.”

Webber on Blake Griffin’s improvement: “He slowed his game down. He’s been attacking the basket. I think Doc Rivers has that effect on him. The fact that Chris Paul is out, he can’t rely on getting lobs, he has to earn it in the paint. I think he has improved a lot.”

Barkley on the Washington Wizards: “The Wizards might be the third best team in the Eastern Conference if Bradley Beal can stay healthy.”

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Portland Trail Blazers (113) at Houston Rockets (126)
Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Miller on the Houston Rockets: “This is how this team was built; (with) speed and power at the rim.”

Miller on Rockets center Dwight Howard: “As long as he makes quick moves, there is no one in the center position that can guard him. There’s no one that can guard him down low, it’s when he holds the basketball and is indecisive; that’s when he runs into trouble.”

Miller on Rockets forward Chandler Parsons: “I’m not sure there is another player in the league that is better moving without the basketball on those backcuts than Parsons.”

Miller on Parsons improvement: “What I’ve always loved about his game, is that he is constantly in motion. Every year he has improved his shooting…scoring average.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Webber

Barkley on Howard: “When he makes quick, decisive moves he is a totally different player. He’s the key. He has to make sure one guy can’t guard him.”
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Miller on Portland teammates LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez: “I really love the way LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez communicate and play with one another on both ends of the floor.”

Miller on the Rockets: “They are going to have to find a better defensive identity going forward. They can’t continually come down and shoot threes; they have to find ways to stop teams at the defensive end.”

Miller on the Trail Blazers: “They are going to have to find more points – other than Mo Williams offensively. But I like their starting five, they are very committed.”

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GameBreak

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Webber

O’Neal on the Trail Blazers growth: “They are learning a little bit from their failures last year. I watched this team and they are so together. They are playing so well right now.”

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Indiana Pacers (102) at Golden State Warriors (94)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Kerr on Pacers forward Paul George: “That’s where he has really improved, that mid-range game…(he has) a lot more patience this year. In year’s past he would attack the rim when there was nothing there. Now he is much more comfortable pulling up and hitting that 12 or 15 footer.”

Kerr on Warriors guard Klay Thompson: “What Klay Thompson maybe isn’t known for, but should be, is his defense.”

Kerr on Warriors center David Lee’s chances on making the All-Star team: “He made the team last year; he’s having a better season this year,  but I don’t think he will make the team just based on numbers.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Webber

O’Neal on Pacers center Roy Hibbert: “I like Roy’s game. He has a super effective game. He’s not going to give you a lot of points but he’s going to give you everything else you need as a big man.”

O’Neal on the Pacers potential: “This team looks really tough. They may give Miami a run for their money.”

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Kerr on Warriors guard Stephen Curry: “He’s the best shooter I think I have ever seen. What separates him is his ability to free himself off the dribble. Very few players in the history of the league have had range and ball handling ability. I don’t think anybody has that skill set that Curry has.”

Kerr on Indiana’s defensive ability: “Indiana is so good defensively; they are able to play against smaller lineups effectively.”

Kerr on the benefit of the Pacers having multiple ball handlers: “They don’t have a traditional penetrating point guard. George Hill is more of a combo guard. You need other players to make plays. To have (Lance) Stephenson as that secondary ball handler is huge for this club.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Webber

Barkley on two improved NBA teams: “Other than the Phoenix Suns, the other surprise in the NBA is the Atlanta Hawks. They are doing a fantastic job.”

O’Neal on the Pacers: “When you are on a team that prides itself on defense, it causes you not to panic. The Pacers are a team that is not panicking…under any situations.”

Barkley on Wizards guard Bradley Beal: “I would take him and Klay Thompson right now for the future of the 2-guard position.”
Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, January 16, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Monday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets followed by the Indiana Pacers @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m.

 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on Knicks guard J.R. Smith being benched after a heated confrontation with Coach Mike Woodson: “I like Mike Woodson holding his ground. They have been playing well without him. He has to understand it is not about him.”

Barkley on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony: “He hasn’t learned how to make other players better.”

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New York Knicks (89) at Indiana Pacers (117)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller and Chris Webber (analysts) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Miller on Pacers guard Lance Stephenson: “He’s been their most versatile player. I know everyone talks about Paul George, but the most consistent player all year has been Lance Stephenson.”

Webber on New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire: “He’s getting back into his rhythm. If he can give a consistent 20 minutes in a game, they will be more than happy.”

Webber on the Pacers’ confidence: “How would you draw up a formula to beat these guys?  Their defense is so great, they play so well. It is really good that they know themselves. They have gone out this year and said this is how we are going to win.”

Miller on how to defeat the Pacers:  “You have to be efficient offensively because they are so stingy defensively.”

Miller on Indiana’s chemistry: “You usually see this in veteran teams. You don’t see this in younger teams. They are so committed to each other defensively.”

Miller on how the Pacers team was built: “This team was built for Chicago; with (Joakim) Noah, (Taj) Gibson and (Carlos) Boozer…they are so big with an inside physical presence, because they are in their division. Miami has the wing players in D-Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh… I think that’s why Miami is adjusting to Indiana…getting (Greg) Oden. They are trying to get big to match up with Indiana. I think Indiana was trying to match up to Chicago.”

Miller on Pacers center Roy Hibbert: “There are not a lot of teams that have rim protectors that are willing to sacrifice fouls and their body like Roy Hibbert. He doesn’t care about points; all he wants to do is defend the paint.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Smith on Lance Stephenson: “He’s become more efficient, last year he was dynamic but this year he’s more efficient.”

Barkley on Stephenson: “He has a superstar talent.  [Whether he] can he harness it totally is going to be the key.”
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Miller on Stephenson thriving as a system player:  “(He’s successful) on the right team, in the right setting, surrounded by the right players. That’s why he is second in scoring, first in assists and third in rebounding because the players around him, the environment around him allows him to relax and play comfortably. If he goes to a team where he has to be the central star, the focal point, I don’t think he puts up these kinds of numbers.”

Miller on Pacers forward Danny Granger: “It’s going to be interesting to see Danny Granger getting his groove back. Offensively, with him coming off the bench against second-year players, he could be so valuable on this team.”

Miller on Granger bouncing back: “Winning cures all. When you have the best record in the NBA and things are flowing for you, you are going to do whatever you can to be a part of it.”

Miller on the impact and involvement of Pacers team president Larry Bird: “To see Paul George and to see Roy Hibbert and see the way Larry Bird is at practices with them all the time and always talking to these guys…I can only imagine how it is for these guys.”

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Oklahoma City Thunder (104) at Houston Rockets (92)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Kerr on the Thunder organization: “What I admire about Scott Brooks and the Thunder is that they always maintain their equilibrium; they never get too high or too low. Their consistency as an organization really gives them a strength and a foundation.”

Kerr on Thunder guard Kevin Durant: “He is just one of those rare players who can just pick and choose when to score.”

Kerr on Durant as MVP: “He’s the only player in the MVP race that you can mention along with LeBron (James). There are other guys that deserve consideration but, in terms of who will actually win the award, it is a two-man race.”

Kerr on Thunder center Stephen Adams: “I love this kid. His strength, his demeanor on the floor, the way he works. [He’s] still really learning…but a massive human being and he moves really well. It is only a matter of time before he is a starter here in place of (Kendrick) Perkins. They really like Adams.”

Kerr on the Rockets: “We forget with Houston that this is still a young team. This is the fourth youngest team in the NBA. These guys have to go through the NBA battles and learn more lessons. I suspect as a team that they are going to have to take some lumps before they are truly championship contenders. There are a lot of interesting pieces and a lot of talent on this roster.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on OKC: “They are going to be successful in regular season with (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook. Andrew Bynum could help this team, but they are going to have to find a guy that can score.”

Barkley on how far OKC can go in the Playoffs: “They are going to be a legit championship contender but they are not going to win the championship until they find a low post scorer to take some of the pressure off Westbrook and Durant.”

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Kerr on the Rockets inconsistency during the regular season: “They have been wildly inconsistent…they have had moments of brilliance.  They have a good record with 26-14 but they’ve lost to some bad teams.  You just don’t know what you are going to get from one night to the next with this team.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on Rockets forward Dwight Howard getting fouls: “Dwight Howard commits the silliest fouls of any big guy I’ve seen. You can’t help your team by sitting on the bench. He’s been more aggressive, he’s doing a better job of posting up, but you just can’t do stupid stuff.”

Barkley on the Rockets lack of defense: “They are not a good defensive team. I don’t think they are a good enough on the perimeter to be a legit championship team.”

Barkley on Dwight Howard: “He’s a very good player but I thought by now he would be a great player. I don’t think you can build your team around him. He needs a lot of help to get deep in the playoffs.”

O’Neal’s on Howard:“Keep it simple. He does himself a disservice. It’s easy; I broke it down for him last year. He can be a great player, but it’s up to him. You have to want it and say, ‘I don’t care what no one says, I want it.’”
Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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NBA on TNT to Present MLK Day Doubleheader on Monday, Jan. 20 – Trail Blazers vs. Rockets & Pacers vs. Warriors

nba-on-tntThe NBA on TNT will present a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day doubleheader on Monday, Jan. 20, tipping off at 8 p.m. ET featuring the Portland Trail Blazers and LaMarcus Aldridge visiting the Houston Rockets and Dwight Howard. Brian Anderson will call the action courtside along with Reggie Miller and reporter Rachel Nichols. The second game at 10:30 p.m. will showcase the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry hosting the Indiana Pacers and Paul George. Marv Albert will provide play-by-play with analyst Steve Kerr and reporter David Aldridge.

Inside the NBA presented by Kia with host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber will recap the night’s action following the doubleheader.

Additionally, NBA TV will present a Martin Luther King Jr. Day telecast featuring the Memphis Grizzlies and Zach Randolph hosting the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis at 5 p.m.

NBA on TNT Upcoming Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Game/Commentators
Monday, Jan. 20 7 p.m. Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets
Brian Anderson, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols
9:30 p.m. Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors
Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, David Aldridge
Post-game Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber
Thursday, Jan. 23 8 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat
Albert, Barkley, Kerr, Aldridge
10:30 p.m. Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers
Kevin Harlan, Miller, Craig Sager
Post-game Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Grant Hill, O’Neal, Kenny Smith

 Visit the Turner Sports online pressroom for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR.

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, January 9, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets at 9:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on injured Knicks center Tyson Chandler: “He’s one of the most underrated players. He’s one of my favorite players in the NBA. He has to get every rebound and has to play defense for everybody else. Without him, [the Knicks] are a no-defense, jump-shooting team.”

Barkley on the Knicks: “The Knicks aren’t a good team.”

Johnson: “Are they getting better?”

Barkley: “They can only get so good.”

Barkley on Knicks’ J.R. Smith: “He would drive Dr. Phil nuts.”

O’Neal on J.R. Smith: “Right now, J.R. Smith is an unmanageable character who isn’t putting in the work.”
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Miami Heat (92) at New York Knicks (102)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Kerr on J.R. Smith: “He’s so talented and he’s had success in this league…but your career is fleeting. This is a brief moment in your life, maybe eight or 10 years if you’re lucky. You have to take advantage of it.”

Kerr on the possibility of free agent Andrew Bynum signing with the Heat: “I don’t think Miami wants Bynum. As talented as he is, he’s a tough guy to fit in and this team is a machine right now.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Smith on LeBron James: “LeBron James always plays the game the right way.”

Barkley on the Knicks: “This is not a good mix of players on the Knicks. They don’t have any selfless players other than Tyson Chandler.”

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Kerr on the difference between the Knicks last season and this year: “They don’t have the same front court defense on the bench [like last season] nor the same leadership. I think it’s been really apparent…you’ve got to have those calming influences on your roster. If you look at their bench, there’s not much leadership there.”
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Oklahoma City Thunder (88) at Denver Nuggets (101)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Miller on how Russell Westbrook’s injuries have helped elevate Reggie Jackson’s game: “You never want to say that an injury to a star player is a blessing in disguise…but the emergence of Reggie Jackson during the playoffs last year when Westbrook went down and this year [with injuries]…he has really improved his game at both ends of the floor. He has a chance to be the Sixth Man of the Year in this system.”

Miller on Kevin Durant: “Every single night, he faces a double and triple team. He’s always going to be guarded by the best perimeter player. The defenses are always going to be skewed his way. For him to average 30 points a game, in lieu of all that, shows you the greatness of Kevin Durant.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Nuggets offensive style: “They don’t have a [go-to player like] Kevin Durant or a LeBron so they have to play ‘helter skelter’ type basketball.”
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Miller on injured Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “They are really missing [Russell] Westbrook on the floor to settle down their second unit.”

Miller on Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw: “Give credit to Brian Shaw and the Nuggets. When you define roles and tell guys exactly what you expect from them and how they perform. Shaw has had his team engaged on both ends of the floor.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on Kevin Durant: “Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player in the world but he needs some help right now.”

Barkley on the Thunder: “They have to find a low-post scorer at some point. Durant and Westbrook can’t do it by themselves. They’ll win a lot of games but they won’t be a championship contender [without a low-post threat].”

Barkley on what Eric Bledsoe’s injury means to the Suns: “It means they’re done. Bledsoe and [Goran] Dragic are the reasons why the Phoenix Suns have been winning. Bledsoe was in the All-Star conversation this season.”

Smith on Andre Miller’s outburst on the bench directed at Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw: “When someone’s pride is hurt for the first time in this type of situation, guys act differently. They act out of character. When you don’t have something, you act out of character and when you’re losing something, you act out of character. It’s those who can remain the same in those two instances that shows a lot of fortitude. He wasn’t able to do that in that moment.”

O’Neal on J.R. Smith: “It seems to me that he doesn’t care. When you’re a winner and you want to play well and you want your team to play well, you have to act like you care. But with the way he’s been playing, it doesn’t seem like he cares. His numbers are down from last year. If he continues not to care, he won’t be around much longer.”

Barkley on Andrew Bynum going to the Cavaliers in the off-season: “I thought he made a stupid decision going to Cleveland because they were not going to win and he was not going to be motivated.”

Smith on Bynum: “When he is counted on, he doesn’t live up to the expectation…but when he’s a subplot, he becomes valuable.”

Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 26, 2013

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 26, 2013

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Miami Heat @ New York Knicks followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Smith on Rockets center Dwight Howard needing to show consistency: “He’s playing fantastic [now] but it has to be a continuation, it can’t be a 10-game stint.”

Barkley on teams taking hard fouls on Clippers forward Blake Griffin: “I like Blake as a player but he has to stop this…people are disrespecting him. They are just hitting him for the hell of it and at some point, he has to knock the hell out of someone.”

O’Neal on Griffin: “He’s a great player and knows he’s going to take a hard foul…on a break, when he knows he’s going to get a hard foul, he has to make sure…they feel it as well.”

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Memphis Grizzlies (92) at Houston Rockets (100)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Chris Webber (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Webber on the Grizzlies trying to define their new identity: “It’s really hard to define who the Grizzlies are. They have two big guys but they are playing finesse basketball…which is something you never thought you’d see Memphis do. So they’re trying to establish their new identity.”

Webber on Grizzlies center Zach Randolph: “You want Memphis to keep that grind mentality because they have one of the best grinders in the NBA in Zach Randolph.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Smith on the Grizzlies: “They have to get back to playing inside-out if they want to win.”

Barkley on the Rockets needing to get the ball inside to Dwight Howard: “Big guys don’t normally run the floor but if you get your big guys to run the floor, you have to reward them. Dwight is doing a fantastic job of getting up and down the floor; they’ve got to get him the ball.”

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Webber on Rockets centers Dwight Howard and Omer Asik: “[Asik is] an incredible player and to have him and Dwight together on the same team is something that most teams don’t have. They could have the best center in the league [Howard] and the best backup [Asik]. They could be a heck of a combination if they were to stay together.”

Webber on Randolph: “He is a guy you just trust in the paint.”

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Los Angeles Clippers (112) at Portland Trail Blazers (116) in OT
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)

Kerr on the Trail Blazers: “They are the most efficient offense in the league.”

Kerr on Clippers’ Jamal Crawford: “He’s a natural scorer. He can score from deep or inside. That’s his mentality, to always attack. That’s why he’s suited to come off the bench.”

Kerr on Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan: “He’s taken a big leap this year in terms of his production and his defensive awareness. He has been fantastic for his team.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Clippers: “If the Clippers get into the open court, they are going to be successful. They struggle in the half-court because Chris Paul has to do so much.”

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Kerr on Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum: “He’s a tremendous all-around player. He’s a ball-mover on offense. The ball never sticks in his hand. But when he’s given the ball in a late game situation, he has the ability to break down the defense and create a shot for himself.”

Kerr on the Clippers: “It’s amazing what has happened with this Clippers franchise in the last few years. Between Blake Griffin and his spectacular dunks and Chris Paul and his guard play, they’ve become one of the marquee franchises in the NBA.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Blazers: “Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are the two guys that make everything go [for the Blazers].”

Smith on the best team in the Western Conference: “Oklahoma City is playing the best but they are unproven. To me, San Antonio is the best [team].”

Barkley on Zach Randolph: “If you don’t like Z-Bo, you don’t like basketball.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 19, 2013

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, December 26, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets followed by the Los Angeles Clippers @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.

***CLIP OF THE NIGHT***

(Please click the text below to view)

Inside the NBA’s Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson join Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” to discuss the “controversy” surrounding last week’s Chariots of Backfire race

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on Kobe Bryant’s recent knee injury: “Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play any more this year. [The Lakers] should shut him down. He is never going to be the same again. There is no way you can blow out your achilles and come back and be a great player. He can be a good, solid player, but age has nothing to do with will power.”

Smith on Bryant: “When he left the game he was one of the premier ball handlers in the game. His ball handling ability allowed him to get to areas of the floor that his athleticism did not. When he came back, his ball handling wasn’t as sharp. What he’s missing now is more basketball practice time to get sharp again. That’s what’s going to hurt him more than anything.”

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Chicago Bulls (95) at Oklahoma City Thunder (107)

Marv Albert (play-by-play), Greg Anthony (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Anthony on Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook: “Russell Westbrook is relentless in everything he does on the basketball court. He’s the kind of guy who hates the other point guards in the league. He is focused on annihilating them, and he brings that kind of attitude to the court. It becomes contagious for their team.”

Anthony on Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha: “When you look at [the Thunder’s] starting five, one of the things that gives them such good rhythm offensively is they have two guys in Perkins and Sefolosha who don’t need the basketball to be affective. [Sefolosha] will knock down open shots and has a good basketball IQ offensively, but he understands his role is to go out and compete against the best offensive perimeter player of that opponent.”

Anthony on Kevin Durant: “He makes the game look so easy from an offensive standpoint…what a luxury to have if you’re a teammate of Kevin Durant.”

Anthony on Oklahoma City’s development of their young players: “Oklahoma City’s best players are so strong that it allows them to take the time to develop their guys. Their young players don’t come in with the pressure to perform and produce right away, so they can develop at their own rate. Credit [Thunder General Manager] Sam Presti, because he drafts players that fit the system and the Thunder’s style of play and not necessarily guys that are the most talented. That’s what they envisioned from [Thunder center] Steven Adams when they brought him in, a big, strong, physical guy who can consistently finish.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith                                                                                     

O’Neal on which Chicago Bull needs to step up in Derrick Rose’s absence: “Usually when one or two of your guys goes down, the other guy has to step up. That guy has to be Carlos Boozer. He has to get more aggressive if the Bulls want to stay in the conversation.”

Barkley on the Chicago Bulls: “It’s hard to play when the season’s over already. The Bulls are not going to win. [Luol] Deng is a free agent, [Carlos] Boozer is a good player but he’s getting older and we don’t know how Derrick Rose is going to come back. They play hard, but the game is about talent. When you lose a MVP like Derrick Rose it’s very difficult to go out there every night and [feel like] you have a chance to win.”

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Anthony on the struggles of Carlos Boozer: “One of the reasons Carlos Boozer is struggling is he doesn’t have the same amount of space with which to operate. When you don’t have a guy like Derrick Rose out there it really makes it tough for you to get a rhythm when you’re playing in traffic.”

Anthony on Thunder head coach Scott Brooks: “We had a lot of wars against each other in college at Irvine. Scott was a really good basketball player, and has obviously turned out to be a really good coach when you think about how much this team has grown and you look at the development of Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka.”

Anthony on Durant: “He’s just unguardable. You typically don’t see guys that size with that kind of quickness and agility.”

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San Antonio Spurs (104) at Golden State Warriors (102)

Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Miller on Warriors shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: “You talk about the presence of Andre Iguodala on the floor, it’s such a luxury if you’re [Warriors Head Coach] Mark Jackson to have Curry and Thompson being able to come off screens via [David] Lee and [Andrew] Bogut. They’re your two best shooters on the team and possibly the NBA.”

Miller on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s management of minutes for his top players throughout the season: “Coach Popovich is good at looking at the big picture. The big picture is for this team to be healthy, playing and clicking on all cylinders come April, May and hopefully June. I understand exactly what he’s doing.

Miller on the Spurs since their loss to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals: “If you thought there was going to be a hangover after that Game 6 loss or Game 7, they’re really not focused in on what happened. You’re one free throw, one defensive rebound away from winning your fifth championship, but there’s no time to really hang your head. How about working harder to try and get back to that particular point?”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

O’Neal on Warriors forward David Lee: “This kid is just relentless. He needs to make the All-Star game again this year. He’s one of those superstars that you don’t have to call the play for. He just has all the intangibles.  I love this kid. He reminds me of Chris Webber. This guy is a true, bona fide superstar. He just does the simple things and I love him for that.”

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Miller on the Spurs without its big three: “Here’s the problem when you don’t have Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. You’re asking these guys that are role players and only play eight to ten minutes a game to be your closer in the last moments of a ball game. They have to be a little bit exhausted. They’re playing minutes they aren’t used to.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Warriors tendency to rely on shooting jumpers: “That Golden State team, they shoot way too many jumpers. They have to do a much better job of getting the job inside. I know the “Splash Brothers” are great shooters, but sometimes you have to be inside-outside, not just outside-outside.”

Barkley on the Warriors’ lack of defensive intensity: “Golden State plays pretty, they live by the jumper and when those jumpers go in it looks really good. But because they lack defensive intensity they’re not good at all. Everything looked good at the beginning of the season but this team is going to be up and down all season. They are going to make those jumpers but they’re not good enough defensively to be a contender.”

O’Neal on the youth of the Warriors: “They have to understand that as a young team you don’t get a lot of second chances, so you have to do everything right. You must beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, be above 500 on the road and be dominant at home. For [Head Coach] Mark Jackson to have to go at them and demand that players play a different way in the second half, it’s not going to work. If you look at the way Coach Popovich does it, he demands it from the beginning and they go out and do it.”